Double Dragon Neon is a reboot of the Double Dragon series by WayForward Technologies that was published by Majesco Entertainment on Xbox Live, PSN and Steam. The game pays homage to the old school beat ‘em up games that are reminiscent of titles like TMNT, Final Fight and Streets of Rage. Though nostalgic, the game adheres very closely to the formula used by Technos Japan in the original Double Dragons arcade cabinet.
You take control of Billy or Jimmy, two martial art brothers on a mission to rescue Marian who was taken captive by the Shadow Warriors gang. Much like the old school beat up games, you can punch, kick, grab and jump as well as dodge and evade enemy attacks on the streets. Items such as sodas are used to replenish health while batteries are consumed to refill the energy meter used for special attacks. Character stats are boosted by equipping a cassette tape and the maximum capacity is raised as you find multiple copies of the same cassette throughout the game. A shop is present in select missions for you to purchase cassette tapes while the tapesmith shop allows you to upgrade your “songs” by payment of mythril stones found as spoils after successful boss fights.
In the two player cooperative mode, you can use an “High Five” technique to share or split your health meter in half. If your partner is knocked out, you have a short time to revive them before they sacrifice a life to return to the game. For more tomfoolery or hijinks, you can opt to psych your partner out or steal one of their lives to stay in the game to avoid permanent death, provided they still have two or more lives to spare. Comical one-liners are shouted out often as a friendly rivalry between the brothers in the midst of different missions.
Visually, the game sports a fluorescent or “neon” aesthetic as described by the title. Much of the visuals pay tribute to the 80s with the bright lights, jean jackets and metal influences, and how sexualized the male and female characters appear in the game. Its comical as the game doesn’t take itself too seriously while poking fun at many timely, cultural influences that adult gamers are likely to recognize. The soundtrack is appropriate as it fits the game’s whimsical and spontaneous tone regarding the action aspects of the game.
Despite the unwieldy controls and sporadic frame-rate issues, the game is fun while it lasts and is best enjoyed when played with a friend. The game contains arcade-style difficulty and can be absolutely brutal in single player mode. As the game could be greatly improved with further refinement of the controls and gameplay mechanics, it remains an entertaining title for those who enjoy a throwback to the old school beat ‘em up games with plenty of comedy and tacky references thrown in for good measure.
PROS – Good Visuals, Comical Voice Acting, Fun Gameplay
CONS – Poor Controls, Steep Difficulty
SCORE – 75%
This review is based on a purchased digital copy of Double Dragon Neon on Playstation Network